Stop the bus. I want to get off.
I find myself having a moment like this at least once a month, a moment where it all starts to feel just a smidge overwhelming. This morning I was having yet another anxiety attack, and I blame it on my feed reader.
There were the links to the approximate 6,800 articles on the extension of the homebuyer tax credit, of course. Sadly, none of them came from my own blog — I’ve been busy. There were the tomes on how to write and how not to write, and there were dozens of posts on new technology, social media and mortgage rates.
Information on changing FHA guidelines and market trends also cluttered my screen, as did reviews of new stuff I needed yesterday like Google Wave, Microsoft’s Windows 7, and this slick handheld device called the Droid.
And then there was the news of the National Association of Realtors’ new Realtors Property Resource. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t entirely grasped the significance of this one. As is the case with so many big ideas lately, I just don’t have the luxury of thinking that hard today. I have work to do.
When did "real estate agent" become a job for only multitasking maniacs? I have to be economist, attorney, home decorator, psychologist and Web designer. I have to be voracious reader, deep thinker, strategic planner and prolific writer. I have to be the great orator with colleagues at conferences and with clients at their kitchen tables. And then I have to meet the termite guy.
Somewhere along the way, I also have to make a living. And I’m proud to say that although retirement remains an abstract concept, I have managed to consistently pay the water bill.
But they tell me this pattern can’t continue unless I have not only a complete grasp of all of the changes going on in the industry and the world but am able to keep in lockstep cadence with the march of each new innovation.
The thought of living out my golden years in a cardboard lean-to on the parkway worries me deeply, so I forge ahead.
Days like this, I feel like I stumbled into the wrong theater. I expected to see a light comedy, or maybe an important drama with a message. Instead, I find myself watching a war flick. They’re coming at me from all fronts, hurling their battle cries in languages I am still trying to decipher. "Tweet, blog, connect, engage!" they scream. …CONTINUED
Dudes, I’m working as fast as I can.
Sometimes I give the appearance I am keeping up. This is because I have assumed a defensible position behind the thought leaders occupying the front line, while a lot of other bright and forward-thinking agents I have come to know have my back.
Other days, though, I simply long for a quiet little foxhole somewhere into which I might disappear for just a minute to catch my breath.
There are a lot of really progressive folks spending a dizzying amount of time establishing and maintaining both a rock star-caliber online social presence and an enlightened grasp of emerging trends. I like to hang around them; it gives the impression that I get it, too.
The reality, though, is that more often than not I feel like I am on a runaway bus that blew right past my stop.
Since I started writing this, I have had to abort twice as my instant chat box reared its little social head. Each time it reminds me of how I have been breaching my own social contract lately, so I take a peek at my Twitter stream.
This, in turn, reminds me that I have nothing to say today and no time to manufacture a social nicety. I have to meet a client in an hour to discuss a price reduction.
The first-time homebuyer tax credit was extended … I really should have written about it on my blog, but I was busy opening a couple of escrows. A weekend has passed, and now it’s old news, so my Happy Halloween post remains resident on the blog’s front page as a testimony to my loser-dom.
The phone just rang. It’s the nice lady at the escrow company telling me that my client’s check is ready to be picked up. That’s curious. I had almost forgotten that you can use the phone as a two-way speaking device. How’s that for cool? I make a mental note to download the application.
At least 12 people have written their own 2,000-word dissertation on NAR’s unveiling of the Realtor Property Resource. I skimmed. I had to, because I have other things on my to-do list today, like finding a nice couple their first home. …CONTINUED
I had planned on watching the live webinar, but then an offer came in on one of my listings which I had to present. Fortunately for me, the webcast is now posted, so I can catch up at my convenience.
Unfortunately, the webcast is currently idling at the three-minute mark, which is about the time I received an e-mail from an agent asking that I "please send the signed contracts already." Alas, I had to freeze-frame poor Dale Stinson.
There is a punch line. I was offered the honor of speaking this week at NAR’s annual conference in San Diego. "Maintaining Control of Your Business" is the session I was assigned, and the irony is anything but subtle. This week anyway, the consummate spokesmodel for balance and control I am not.
And yet, there is a message here worth delivering, and maybe I am just the one to deliver it. Call it a copout, but I tend to think of it as reality. I can’t know everything about everything; there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
I can’t be everywhere, online and off, because there aren’t enough spots on my dance card. Social media, technological tools and applications, and the latest Case-Shiller report are all tools of my business, but they are not my business.
My business is helping people buy and sell homes. To the extent I can continue to grow my business by adopting new and better systems and practices, I will. But we all have our limits. The key is in knowing those limits.
Mostly, the key is in giving yourself permission to be a little behind sometimes, a little less famous or tech-savvy than some of your more prominent peers — a little more normal. Only you know what you need or want the number on your tax return to look like. Our objective first and foremost is to make a living. How we are able to accomplish that will be entirely up to each of us individually.
As for the rest of this stuff, it is information. It is opportunity, and it is professional enrichment. It is also, too often, just distraction and noise. Sometimes the noise is so great that it threatens to drown out the old business plan.
I can’t make the bus stop moving, nor can I slow it down. But by keeping things in perspective, finding a balance, and being more at peace with "normal," I may find I am able to both get where I need to go and enjoy the ride, even if it is from the back seat.
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